The Difference between Open and Closed AA Meetings

AA meetings or Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings are congregations or gatherings of those affected by alcoholism. These are forums where people affected by alcohol addiction come together and discuss their problems and challenges. AA meetings offer endless flexibility and freedom to joinees.

One can join any meeting close by without any affiliation or restrictions whatsoever. There are no rules about participation as well! One can share one’s stories or simply wait through and enjoy stories shared by others. One can attend one meeting regularly or change locations as per requirement. No one is liable to face any questions for the same.

Open and Closed AA Meetings

AA meetings can be largely classified into 2 types, open and closed. Open meetings are those that are open to the public at large. Therefore, it is a kind of set-up where the members of Alcoholics Anonymous participate and interact while the public can sit and watch. They are even allowed to participate in case they wish to provide some input.

In closed AA gatherings, only the members of Alcoholics Anonymous participate in it. Outsiders are not allowed for such meetings and the gathering remains largely private.

Open Meetings 

When you are attending open AA meetings near me, the members are intimated beforehand that the meeting or gathering is not likely to be open. They understand that there would be visitors from the media or even from the public and they are mentally prepared to conduct themselves accordingly.

Sometimes, open meetings may also be speaker meetings. Here, only one member is designated to make a speech while others listen in. The speaker tells his story, and explains what it was like to walk the alleys of alcoholism, what pushed him into their dark lanes, and how they finally succeeded in moving to illuminated areas. The speaker is also made aware of the fact that the meeting is an open one and addicts as well as non-addicts would be listening to his speech.

Another type of open meeting is a discussion meeting. During open sessions, AA members are encouraged to share their personal experiences with the group in question. They could speak about the reasons that compelled them to join these AA sessions and how these sessions have helped them to combat alcoholism in their way. Some of these open meetings may also lay focus on how nonmembers can help extend their support to those who have been affected by alcohol.

Who could be the Prospective Joinees of AA Meetings?

Some of the prospective joinees for AA meetings would include:

The General Public At Large: This might include spectators, researchers of substance abuse and their associated perils, social workers, or just about anyone with an interest in substance abuse problems and how to combat them. Almost anyone with a penchant for knowledge and experience can join these meetings and satiate their desires.

People with Drinking or Substance Abuse Issues: People who do not have a substance abuse issue can also be a part of these open meetings for a clearer understanding.

People who are Considering Joining AA Meetings: People who have been sitting on the fence and planning to join AA meetings would be ideal candidates for taking part in AA meetings. They can take a feel of how things proceed in an AA gathering or session and then can choose whether to become a part of it or not! An open meeting offers them the chance for direct exposure.

Family Members of Those Affected: Family members of those joining these AA meetings for redemption from alcoholism are highly likely to join open-ended AA meetings. Friends and acquaintances of loved ones can also do the same. This would indeed allow them to be a part of the journey undertaken by their loved ones in a bid to score well on the sobriety calculator. They can listen to speeches, try and understand more about alcoholism and help their near and dear ones more objectively.

One very big advantage of open meetings is that they allow your loved ones to be part of the recovery journey for you. Being socially supported helps in ensuring robust recovery rates and this is where open meetings score over closed ones.

Open VS Closed AA Meetings 

You would be keen on joining open AA Gatherings when:

  1. You are considering joining an AA group or a similar group that follows the 12 steps.
  2. You are keen on hearing and learning more about substance or alcohol abuse from people who are affected by these substances.
  3. You could have friends who are non-members and who have just come over to support you.
  4. You are keen on learning more about the recovery process.

You would be keen on joining closed AA Meetings when:

  1. You are keen on closed meetings when you do not want your friends or family members to be present at AA meetings. You would rather wish to keep your recovery journey a bit more discreet.
  2. Closed meetings are more suited for intimate and close-knit conversations Especially, if you wish to listen to the experiences encountered by others.
  3. Closed meetings are also more suited for sharing experiences with other members. Open meetings may have too many distractions not allowing you to share.
  4. There may be an event where you are close to a specific or unique step and looking for input from other members of the AA meetings. In such cases too, a closed meeting would prove to be a more suitable alternative. Seeking input from fellow members when the public is present at large may not be such a great idea.

Simply put, closed meetings are more intimate gatherings where meaningful and more interactive exchanges are perhaps possible. These are sessions that are more private and hence more intense. Open sessions are not so private and more generic. They are great for a general awareness towards the banes of alcoholism.

Before joining an AA meeting in Virginia, make sure you know whether it is an open-ended or a close-ended one.

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